HONR 219Q Reading Response Questions

Reading Response Questions:

Feb. 5
Compare, contrast, and react critically to the Theistic and Anthropic Principles.
Theistic Principle: The Universe is the way it is in order that we exist.
Anthropic Principle: The properties of our universe must be suited for life in order for us to be here to observe it.

Feb. 12
Succinctly express the known cosmological opinions of the assigned philosopher.
Emphasize what you find compelling, and critique what you find incredulous.

Feb. 19
Evaluate the evidence for and against the geocentric and heliocentric world system.
What evidence is ambiguous? What compelling?

See the class schedule for important ancillary readings.

Feb. 26
Compare and contrast the nature of Space according to Descartes and Newton.
Which of their attitudes more closely resembles your own?

Mar. 4
Consider the Cosmological Principle and the Perfect Cosmological Principle.
Do these seem reasonable? Is one more reasonable than the other? How so?
Are isotropy and homogeneity inevitable?
Taking the book's assertions in chapter 7 with a grain of salt (particularly about observational evidence for and against), decide for yourself how it "ought" to be.

Mar. 11
Midterm exam.
No reading response.

Mar. 18
Spring Break.
No reading response.

Mar. 25
Just back from spring break.
No reading response.

Apr. 1
Historically, the cosmological constant has fallen in and out of favor. Currently it is very much in favor, being hailed twice in the past decade as the breakthrough of the year. Einstein called the cosmological constant his greatest blunder.
Should we rejoice at the current revival or fear that something is dreadfully wrong?

Apr. 8
Inflation is said to solve the horizon and coincidence/flatness problems.
Do you feel that these are really problems in need of solution?
Why or why not?

Apr. 15
An overwhelming amount of evidence suggests that the visible mass does not add up to enough total mass in many extragalactic systems.
Possible explanations for these mass discrepancies include (1) dark matter and (2) modified gravity.
Philosophically, does (1) or (2) seem preferable? Why?
What evidence might discriminate between (1) and (2)?

Apr. 22
Why does Tegmark argue that you must have a doppleganger in some very remote parallel universe?
Does this notion sit well with you? Make an argument to either support or refute this assertion.

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